“No Openings – It Is All Collusion” by Nev Sagiba

“What if…?” What if indeed! There is no what if and things are as they are and can be no other way.

We were once practicing buki tori and a nobody who presumed himself some sort of budoka came up and made the lofty statement, ” Yes, but if that was a real sword and the swordsman knew how to use it, you could not do that silly aikido technique…”

I don’t know what it was he was seeing in his mind because fortuitously, I’m not the possessor of it. Contest sportists entangled in the idea of collecting trophies will never understand budo. Nor will the miserable cowards who run pseudo dojos so they can use smaller, less experienced people as crash test dummies for abuse.

A soldier does not practice so he can hide in a hall and collect trophies and other baubles. He practices so he can serve to protect the ones he loves, and this often at immense risks and against terrifying odds. Something mushal arts ex-spurts will never understand.

There is nothing whatsoever martial about mushal arts. Get that straight from the get go.

When any protector or servant of humanity dons a uniform he knows clearly that he may not return alive. Whilst many do, some do not. Ever watched the news? Or was it suppressed in your country?

In training, it’s all collusion. In the real thing you fight against the spectre of death. It’s a job. You do it.

In sport it’s kid’s play. I find it offensive that footballers, most who have the brain the size of pea and the mental capacity of a chook are called “heroes” by the media. What? For chasing a dead piece of leather across a paddock for an hour or two, getting overpaid and sexually abusing groupies at parities?


What exactly is it that stick and ball masters and leather ball chasers are saving that is of any real and lasting use to society? The time of the chronically bored and idle? What else? Anything at all?

Gladiators are not heroes and don’t know the meaning of the word. At best they are poor entertainers of sorts who appeal the to the lowest in the lazy of mind and body. At best they would join the military and make themselves useful.

In a dojo, doing sporty stuff, with rules, can sometimes be dangerous, but it serves merely ego in a paradigm of this against that and win and lose and tapped out and all manner of wish wash that does not exist in the field of battle, a place of ongoing strategy that strives to offer no openings.

In the real thing there comes a time when there are no “rules of engagement” and you either live or die. And much of that is chance.

Your skill in practice may, it may just offer fragments of a millisecond, a hair’s breadth, and atom or two which separates the identification of a chance or a potential, which may turn the tide. That’s all.

And that’s why real warriors drill, and always have drilled from the worst-case scenario. Because one day they may find themselves there when there is real intent to harm.

Pre-set conditions do not exist in real violence. You have to try to learn to live with no openings, noticing all openings, and understand that the rules of a dojo whether real and respectful budo, or those sporty pseudo dojos, exist to minimize harm.

On that basis it is all collusion in training and that’s as it should be. And then pray God that you never have to encounter the real thing.

Unlike the real warriors who sign up for it, in order to serve and protect those they love, the values they cherish and the freedoms they often die for, so that fools who are too frightened to meet real and deadly risk in a real and deadly field of battle can hide at home, collect baubles, play dress-ups and make believe they are samurai. Or “heroes” because of some tinsel decoration worth fifty cents.

Nev Sagiba


  1. A little harsh on proffesional athletes and those that watch them , i agree sports people are raised on too high a mantel in our society.Although they do also inspire people to get of the couch.I personally like watching high level athletes , the likes of Jordan and Ali where very Aiki like in their grace and movement.Watch Ali V Sonny liston.

  2. Bruce Baker says:

    What if? When someone poses a question of “What if?” and the obvious answer is that you lose, then you lose.

    Give them the answer they are seeking when someone asks the impossible question. What if a someone attacked you with a real sword and they were expert in the use of a sword? You have no choice but to flee, or … to die … do you? You can ask them … how would you die?

    What if a superior fighter overwhelmed you no matter what you did to defend yourself? Then you would lose and be beat up wouldn’t you, so survival would be you only course of action, or again … you would die, right?

    It may sound insane, but when faced with a choice that reaches right down in your very soul as abhorrant, as the least likely choice you would ever make, and there is no other choice for the situation … at some point … you are gonna have to accept it in your mind so you have the slimmest chance of survival.

    It makes no difference what clothes or uniforms you use to practice in, when you are out on the street in your “everyday clothes” you will have to use your skills you practice in your everyday clothes. There is no time to change into your super-hero practice uniform, so maybe you should practice in your street clothes instead of your dress-up uniform for Aikido now and again. Get used to moving around with whatever restrictions that clothing presents, right?

    And another thing … you can run through your mind why the person on your left was shot and killed, or why someone else was murdered, or why you almost died from some incident in your life becoming paralyzed with fear and doubt, but the old saying of ” Embrace the Pain”, or ” Embrace Death” has a practical application for the mental state of mind it takes to survive, or in many cases when the time comes … to die.

    I don’t know about you guys, but watching others die, or myself being in situations when I am helpless as I just sought to survive, pushed me towards trying to learn other ways to push the odds in my favor to survive. Hence, to learn some level of martial arts was both the mental and physical discipline that helped me to understand that even the most skilled fighter is vulnerable if you just have the knowledge to exploit the opportunity of any particular situation.

    Some situations require … RUN AND HIDE .. don’t they. We don’t often talk about that one, but there are situations where avoiding someone for a while is the remedy.

    So, as a consideration of real life …. EVERYTHING you learn is the attempt to prolong life … both yours and those around you. It may take some pretty outrageous thinking to accomplish this goal, but never ignore the fact that at the end of the day the survivor writes the history, and lives to see another day. If by chance that person is a good moral person, then that is the way society is shaped.

    LEARN the behaviors or human beings, and STUDY the history of violence, even in our modern world where gangs pretend to hide in plain sight and try to pretend to run the world with their brand of violence. Aikido seems to be a very non-violent practice, but there may be an occasion where you will have to go to extreme lengths to survive and think about either killing someone, or face the fact you will die. Wouldn’t it be better to be ready instead of falling apart crapping your pants (which usually happens when you die and your muscles relax but that that is not important). I always thought there was something in being told to wear clean underwear during an accident, but obviously it was a joke about reality.

    You have to get your mind familiar with the things that frighten you so you will have a chance to survive, to change the world, to have that slimmest of chances to do what needs to be done to survive.

    What do you think all these blogs are about anyway? We are all trying to face down the things in our minds that need to be confronted so we can make a difference in the world around us. Fact is, that is why I continue to support Aikido from where I stand because it generates hope and the promise the we as individuals can make the world a better place if we work together understanding the harmony of what is needed to be done.

    I should probably rewrite this and make it smaller, but it too damn early and I am still half asleep.

    Heroes are the victors and survivors at the end of the day. How they get there may not be morally correct or within the rules of engagement, but then you need to think outside the box so that YOU TOO will be one of those survivors who can shape society to be a better place to live. That is your ultimate goal whether you realize it or not.

    If somehow we can lesson the violent intention of society, by all means, advocate peace and harmony, but realize also … history points out … the violent and self-destructive actions of individuals/ groups of people in our society also.

    In the end, it is not just the WILL of the majority that maintains the Peace and Harmony but the ACTIONS of the majority that will need to be taken to restore Peace and Harmony when society diverges on these destructive binges we, as a society, seem to go on now and again.

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